100 Favorite Dishes: The Polpetta Sandwich at Sarto's

A hearty meatball sandwich at Sarto's Pantry.EXPAND
A hearty meatball sandwich at Sarto's Pantry.
Mark Antonation

No. 11: The Polpetta Sandwich at Sarto's
Sarto's is a little tucked away on its corner in the Jefferson Park neighborhood off Federal Boulevard, but the bright, elegant dining room and novel — at least for Denver — chef's ciccetti bar have made it a draw since it opened last spring. But what's still somewhat of a secret is that owners Taylor and Kajsa Swallow also run the attached Sarto's Pantry, a sandwich shop and mini-deli that's open for lunch and dinner from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The menu comprises salads, stromboli, soups and sandwiches during the day, making the Pantry a great stop for a quiet bite just beyond the bustle of the hipper West Highland and LoHi neighborhoods nearby.

Sarto's sources quality salumi for its cold sandwiches, but for something a little more warming, the Polpetto features house-made meatballs and red sauce with a couple of slabs of provolone — all bursting out of a Grateful Bread baguette. Swallow says the secret to the meatballs is slow braising — and he's right. Some meatballs have a texture akin to an overly fat burger, but at Sarto's the consistency is more like meatloaf, with a softness and full flavor that can only come with time.

The sauce, too, is slow-cooked magic, with summer sunshine captured in tomato form and reduced down to thick and tangy richness. But the difference maker might just be the bread; the crust is thin and crackly for a good first crunch, but isn't so hard that sharp edges shred your gums. Inside, the porous crumb holds together well while absorbing the marinara and juice from the meatballs. And the provolone adds a creamy layer to the mix.

If Sarto's is the place for a posh night out in a tailored jacket to match the menu's tailored fare, the Pantry is a comfortable stop in comfortable jeans, where you can sit at the window counter and watch the slow pace of Jefferson Park while enjoying the time-honored combination of marinara and meatballs.

We're continuing to count down the best dishes in the city — from longtime classics that keep us coming back to new additions that have caught our attention. If there's a dish you think we need to try, tell us about it in the comments section, or shoot us an e-mail at cafe@westword.com.

Hungry for more? All the dishes in our 2015 countdown are linked below.

No. 100: Chile Relleno at La Fiesta
No. 99: Gurage Kitfo at Megenagna Ethiopian Restaurant
No. 98: Cochinita Pibil at Work & Class
No. 97: The Greggers Tongue Sandwich at Olive & Finch 
No. 96: Baum Cakes at Glaze by Sasa
No. 95: Goat hot pot from Viet's
No.94: Head cheese from Beast + Bottle
No. 93: Kettle Chips from Amerigo Delicatus
No. 92: Pork Belly Confit at Solera Restaurant and Wine Bar
No. 91: Tacos Campechanos from La Calle Taqueria
No. 90: Biscuits from Denver Biscuit Co.
No. 89: Clams and Chorizo at Gozo
No. 88: Aburi Sushi at Sushi Den and Izakaya Den
No. 87: Kimchi and Sausage Torta at City, O' City
No. 86: Mar y Tierra Molcajete at Paxia
No. 85: Crispy Pork Spare Ribs at Table Top
No. 84: Chips and Dip at Euclid Hall
No. 83: Chile Relleno Burrito at El Taco de Mexico
No. 82: Scallop Crudo at Stoic & Genuine
No. 81: Ceylon Curry Dosa at Khazana
No. 80: The Lambada Torta at La Torteria
No. 79: Pork Bulgogi at Dae Gee
No. 78: the Pulled Pork Pig Pen Sandwich at Boney's
No. 77: IPA Mac & Cheese at Hops & Pie
No. 76: Chiles en Nogada at Chili Verde
No. 75: Udon Noodle Bowl at Bones
No. 74: Cinnamon Rolls at the Duffeyroll Cafe
No. 73: Smoked Turkey Croque-Madame at Acorn
No. 72: Pickled Lake Michigan Perch at Trillium
No. 71: Oysters at Jax Fish House Glendale
No. 70: Venezuelan Tostadas at Empanada Express Grill
No. 69: Tahini Cauliflower from Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs
No. 68: The Ham and Cheese Tartita from Maria Empanada
No. 67: Ronnie's Favorite from Rosenberg's Bagels and Deli
No. 66: Shoo-fly Pie from the Long i Pie Shop
No. 65: Czech Potato Pancakes at Sobo 151
No. 64: Fried Chicken at the Post Brewing Co.
No. 63: Braised Brisket Sandwich at Masterpiece Delicatessen
No. 62: The Scotch Egg from Argyll Whisky Beer
No. 61: Butternut Squash Ravioli at DiFranco's
No. 60: Sesame Balls at Vinh Xuong Bakery
No. 59: Curry Puffs at Suvipa Thai Food
No. 58: Diavola Pizza at Pizzeria Locale
No. 57: Chorizo Breakfast Stew at DJ's 9th Avenue Cafe
No. 56: The Rare Beast Sandwich at Salt & Grinder
No. 55: 48-Hour Short Ribs at Chop Shop Casual Urban Eatery
No. 54: Marrow Bone Brulee at Mercantile Dining & Provision
No. 53: Prawns and Pork Belly at Blackbelly Market
No. 52: Belgian Waffles from Waffle Up
No. 51: Nashville Hot Chicken at Lou's Food Bar
No. 50: Breakfast Burrito from Chickee's Lil Kitchen 
No. 49: Monkfish and Romanesco at TAG
No. 48: Cabeza Tacos at Taqueria El Trompito
No. 47: Pupusas Revueltas at Pupuseria San Salvador
No. 46: Sesame Pockets at Golden Plate II
No. 45: Tuna Mousse at Cart-Driver
No. 44: Tavern Tots at the Highland Tavern  
No. 43: Carne Asada Fries at North County
No. 42: Pho at Wonderbowl
No. 41: Shredded Bison at Tocabe
No. 40: Nachos al Pastor from Tony Guacamole
No. 39: Prosciutto Pop Tart from Bakin' Bakery
No. 38: Ham and Egg Congee at Onefold
No. 37: Lao Sausage at the Asian Cajun
No. 36: Pan Bagnat at Fuel Cafe 
No. 35: Meatloaf Sandwich at City Bakery Cafe
No. 34: Okonomiyaki at Kobe An
No. 33: Farrotto Piccolo at Basta
No. 32: Fried Gizzards at Catfish King
No. 31: My Wife's Donuts at Osaka Ramen
No. 30: Foie Gras Bonbons at Milk & Honey Bar Kitchen
No. 29: Gnocchi Maison au Canard Fume at Z Cuisine
No. 28: Mysore Thali at Masalaa
No. 27: The Papa Bear at Cub's Q Barbeque
No. 26: Xiaolongbao at Shanghai Kitchen
No. 25: Bake Rice With Porkchop at Hong Kong Cafe
No. 24: A Burger at Bob's Atomic Burger
No. 23: The Emma Farms Wagyu Beef Burger at Edge Restaurant & Bar
N
o. 22: Parma Italia Pizza at Blue Pan Pizza
No. 21: Purple Cow Ice Cream at Little Man Ice Cream
No. 20: Colorado Striped Bass Crudo at Beatrice & Woodsley
No. 19: Mongolian BBQ Duck Buns at Linger
No. 18: Pink Lady Roll at Sushi Sasa
No. 17:
Fried Green Tomatoes at Sassafras American Eatery
No. 16: Deep-fried Cornbread at Sons of Scullery 
No. 15: House-smoked Pulled Pork Sandwich at the Universal
No. 14: Bruschetta at Postino LoHi 
No. 13: Pimento Cheese at Dunbar Kitchen & Tap Room
No 12: Takoyaki at Sakana Sushi & Ramen

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Sarto's

2900 W. 25th Ave.
Denver, CO 80211

303-455-1400

www.sartos.com


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